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The Basement: Under The Stairs

by - Monday, March 19, 2012

So things are moving along in the basement, slowly. Lots of cleanup has been going on... old electrical, alarm wires, plumbing - all cleaned up, made more efficient, moved out of the way. We also moved the hot water tank into the storage are and and took the opportunity to switch it from electric to more efficient gas. Surprisingly, since we were renting the tank from Direct Energy, making the switch (moving the tank, getting the new unit, drilling for the external vent) was free!

What wasn't free... turning the furnace 45 degrees. See that blue tape line? A new wall to the storage room will sit just outside that line. There wouldn't be enough room to access the furnace if needed so it had to be turned. The storage/laundry room is starting to take shape. The laundry machines are in their new spot and that garbage can & plywood contraption represents the countertop and cabinetry on the opposite side. The laundry room feels bigger than I thought! We'll see if it still feels that way once the walls are up.

This is one area on my mind though. If you remember, we had a bank of cabinetry underneath the stairs. Great for storage, but we decided to take them out so we could access the area for insulation and match the look with the rest of the cabinetry going in the basement. A few ideas I'm playing with:

Full-height cabinets. This is similar to what we had before, except the doors would match the other cabinets in the craft zone (shown on the left of the mockup) and we would eliminate the separate access to the triangular area. Having a setup like this would be great for storage. One tall area could be used to store the vacuum and brooms. The other side would be good for storing our big Tupperware containers of off-season clothing.

Another idea: Create more of a built-in look with deep pot drawers below and drywall above. I find pot drawers so useful. I could totally see using these drawers for those random seasonal decor items I have stored in multiple places around the house. One downside to this option is we lose the extra storage space in the triangle area.

We could also do open shelving and have some room for display. This might be a nice way to break up all the cabinetry. We could possibly keep costs down by using off-the-shelf bookcases that we would make look built-in. However, since most bookcases aren't that deep, we'd lose all that storage space behind the bookcases.

And this is a really fun option... putting a playhouse for Chloe under the stairs. I'd love to create something like this one by Mossy. Growing up, we had a playhouse under the stairs (okay, it was more like a curtain and a table) and I remember spending hours there, reading books, playing grocery with my sister, hiding my treasures. How fun would this be?

Any other options you can think of? How have you used the space under your stairs?

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  1. You just HAVE to do the playhouse. It is adorable and Chloe would love it!

    Oh wait, I would love it and I'm a grown-up...... ;)

  2. So under-the-stair storage would be practical, but sometimes you have to throw practicality aside and do something fun, like the playhouse. Omg. That would be so awesome. 

  3. Grace @ sense and simplicity12:24 PM

    Personally I love the playhouse idea.  You will be the hit of the neighbourhood with a playhouse under your stairs.  You could make the outside more in keeping with the rest of your basement though.

  4. Had to dig through the bookmarks for these under stair storage cabinet plans: I like that the unique shape gives you options to get creative with your storage needs (shelves - both shallow and deep, hanging rods). Throw in a tall bin for those long wrapping paper rolls and you're set!

  5. my fav has got to be Chole's playhouse idea!  Love the cedar details and I'm sure Chole will love it for at least another 8 years!

    If that's not in the card, then I would go for option 2 with pot drawer and art work above.  Functional and beautiful!  

    Your basement project is truly taking shape Jen!

  6. Stephanie12:24 PM

    My family is doing something like this. We're doing the small one with a removable tray for shoes, the second and third ones for coats (with a pole attached front to back) and the largest one with shelves for games, craft stuff, linens, etc...

  7. Auntie Shan12:24 PM

    Good! Personally, I'd probably insist on steel corner-supports under that landing, AND every 10ft or so under that main ceiling girder! - If there isn't already. [2-words: structural fatigue!] :-D

  8. Playhouse! Playhouse! Playhouse!

    When I was a kid, I converted an under-stairs closet into a little "playhouse" (just a couple of chairs, books, and a transistor radio... those were the days...) for me and my BFF and we *loved* that thing. If you can spare the storage space, go with the playhouse.

    And, as someone else has mentioned, when she outgrows it, you can just make it into a closet then. :)

  9. Gmaeson12:24 PM

    Nice post, really nice. I also suggest some blogs that you can be
    interest. Are Boca do Lobo Posts.

    The brand is called Boca do Lobo and brings together concepts like luxury, originality and creativity. 

    I'm sure it would make a good article in your magazine. The Boca do Lobo that is a Portuguese company produces furniture using fine materials in their creations. 

    They use reference styles from the past (like Gothic), coupled with current trends, as well as the craftsmanship and technology of the present. 

    The result is a contemporary pieces with a traditional touch. 

    Learn mores parts:

    Really sure that you will find inspiration for the next blog post ;)

  10. ramblingrenovators12:24 PM

    Thanks Marcie! A weekend project? You have me hopeful! Though I'm thinking my handy architect might move a bit slower than yours, ha!

  11. ramblingrenovators12:24 PM

    Great suggestion. Love those pullouts - you could store tons of things there (I'm thinking paint cans!).

  12. ramblingrenovators12:24 PM

    You are absolutely right Auntie Shan. Our contractor noticed that too when we opened up the walls. Add it to the long list of To Do's :)

  13. We went for one giant storage room/closet underneath our staircase, but I wish I had thought of what you are trying to do here. Option 1 and 2 are very practical.

  14. Evonne Winchiu Donaher12:24 PM

    Long time reader, first time commenter :) The playhouse is such a fun idea! If you're keen on having some storage, though, one hybrid idea could be to build some pull out drawers (maybe on casters or heavy duty rails?) that have open shelves on the front. This way, you can break up the cabinetry but still have access to the under-stair storage. We're thinking of something like this under our basement stairs. (Inspiration:

  15. Kelli Fox12:24 PM

    oh if you can spare the space I would totally make the little play house.  I saw that on Pinterest and pinned it, even though my baby girl is 28 years old!  haha!  I love that idea! so much fun

  16. Harry Potter12:24 PM

    That's not a furnace, it's a boiler.

    And I vote for a playhouse under the stairs.

  17. I also had a secret nook under the stairs when I was a kid.  My cousins and I had such fun playing in there when we were small, and later I read in the little nook.  I think Chloe would love her own little space down there!

  18. I love the idea of the much fun! And like Laxsupermom, I'd love to see your interpretation...however I suppose one has to think with one's head in such cases and if storage is an issue in your home, I'd go full height closed storage...but my heart says playhouse :o)

  19. I'd love to see you do your spin on a playhouse under the stairs for Chloe!  It could always be converted to storage space when she's older.

  20. We ended up using ours for storage for Aubrey's books. You can never have too much storage.

  21. All your ideas are fantastic.  The deciding factor is whether closed storage is more important or not.  If so, having shelves for display or art for the walls can perhaps be done elsewhere on another wall.

    We used the the space under the stairs for a closet which holds out of season items, in season items that have over flowed from another closet, suitcases, extra car seats, skates, etc.  We also had a light installed in the closet which turns on whenever you open the door and which turns off when you close the door, which we find extremely handy and makes it easier to see what we are looking for.

  22. thebookofjimmy12:24 PM

    Re: under the stairs storage.  This book
    has a lot of neat ideas for that sort of thing (and many other small space solutions).  They really take a lot of the ideas to their extreme conclusions, since the spaces they are dealing with are really tiny.  But it gives some good inspiration.  And they have a few very cool examples of under-stair storage.  

  23. Auntie Shan12:24 PM

    Just curious... Did you have the stairs moved to wall, or were they always there? I only ask, as the "support"-beaming you have going on under the Landing doesn't look all that secure for its load-weight... -- I can't tell if those beams are IN the floor concrete or "on" it. If "on", they should have bottom framing - even if the current set-up is temporary.

    BTW, don't mind me, but as a LOOONG time "Basement-Dweller", I'm "picky" about such things... ;-D

  24. That picture of the under-stair playhouse is TOO cute! I would have loved one of those growing up! :)

  25. Barbara @hodge:podge12:24 PM

    I vote playhouse under the stairs! Exciting renovation  - where this is going!

  26. Oh that playhouse idea is just fabulous!!! Chloe would looooove that (as would any girl really)! And I really like all of your other ideas for maximizing the under-the-stairs area. 
    I once saw on pin on Pinterest where a couple used a small powder room under the stairs. It was pretty clever. This, of course, would only work in homes where the plumbing just so happened to be located there, but it's a fine idea nonetheless!

  27. ramblingrenovators12:24 PM

    Ooh, I don't remember that post! Thanks for sharing. I like how your door looks hidden.

  28. ramblingrenovators12:24 PM

    My heart says playhouse too ;)

  29. Jennifer,thank you for posting a photo of my under-the-stairs playhouse!  It was a weekend project--invaluable for those long rainy days with toddlers.  Like you, I married a handy architect--we've spent many days "bonding" over a plaster bucket and putty knives.  Your site is wonderful!

  30. play house under the stairs!!! What kid (heck, what adult) wouldn't love that idea! And so nicely tucked out of the way.

  31. That playhouse is an amazing idea!! For storage, I love the option with pot drawers - sounds like perfect use of space in the basement. So excited to see this project as it goes, it's very exciting.


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